I forgot about this picture I snapped from that weekend in Springfield, until this afternoon when the super awesome Peggy Orenstein (author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter) retweeted it.
This is in the extensively stocked gift shop of the Lincoln Museum (which was altogether fabulous, by the way). Among the mugs, aprons, puzzles, keychains, rock candy (?) and magnets are various period costumes for kids. Awesome kids, by the way, because awesome kids like to dress up as historical figures.*
And then, amidst the bonnets and wooden rifles and whatnot, sit the soldier caps. Blue for the Union, grey for the Confederacy. And pink, of course, for the girls.
My beef is not with the color pink. I happen to be wearing pink nail polish as I type this. I like pink a whole lot. My beef is with the “othering” of products for girls. Legos (generic) are for boys, Lego Friends (the special pink version) are for girls. Jenga is the generic, pink Girl Talk Jenga is for girls.
It’s like we think that women are some minority, instead of half of the population. It’s bad enough that we feel the need to divide products and label them so exclusively, but must we pretend that the default is male and the weird little offshoot product is female?
Regarding historical costumes specifically, we can’t retroactively change the color of the uniforms in the Civil War to suit our narrow gender assumptions. If you want to buy your daughter a cap, buy her a blue or grey cap, and if she’s the kind of girl that wants Civil War soldier garb, she’ll get over it.
*1997, Abraham Lincoln. 2011, Rosie the Riveter.
Related Post: Why do girls need special Legos?
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